— Scottie Bordelon (@NWAScottie) August 26, 2016
Thursday was a big scrimmage night at Springdale Har-Ber as four teams – North Little Rock, Siloam Springs, Bentonville High and Har-Ber – all saw action just eight days away from the official opening of the season.
Following split-field scrimmages for the first hour-and-a-half, the fun really began, pitting Bentonville against Siloam Springs and North Little Rock with Har-Ber.
Here is a recap of the Bentonville-Siloam Springs scrimmage:
It was relatively clear from the jump Bentonville was too much for the Panthers. Two plays into the scrimmage the Tigers moved the ball down the field and into the red zone.
Following a 4th down conversion, quarterback Canaan Ross found receiver Kam’Ron Mays-Hunt for a 13-yard touchdown, and the rout was on. The Tigers beat Siloam Springs, 21-0, in two game-like quarters of play, attacking early offensively while the defense wore the Panthers down.
Receiver Clay Barganier caught four passes for 63 yards, the longest – 28 yards – coming on the first drive of the game to help set up Bentonville’s first score. Running back Jacob Clark also had an 18-yard run to begin the scrimmage.
Bentonville had a very balanced night offensively, throwing for 119 yards and rushing for 108. Ross was responsible for all yards through the air, and Clark led the Tigers with 53 yards rushing on just seven carries. Ross’s second touchdown pass of the evening went to tight end Tyler Johnson – who stretched to reach the pylon – from 21 yards out to cap the first quarter of play.
Tyrell Lyons then found the end zone in the second period from one yard out to make it a 21-0 game.
Bentonville’s offense, thanks to its stout defense, never truly had to worry about scoring enough points. The Tigers gave up very little to Siloam Springs and forced the Panthers into mistakes. Defensive back Destyn Adkins tallied two deflections on Siloam’s first two possessions, and finally got his pick in the second quarter. He returned the interception to the Siloam 16, where the Tigers would score three plays later.
With the Tigers up 7-0 early, Bentonville forced a turnover as Collin Snieski picked off Siloam Springs. Bentonville couldn’t turn the miscue into points, however, as kicker Hayden Moehring missed wide left on a 38-yard attempt.
Overall, it was a solid night for Bentonville. A balanced offense and strong defense can carry teams deep into the postseason. If the Tigers can continue to be explosive on offense and make timely defensive plays they’ll once again be in the hunt for a 7A-West title.
Springdale Har-Ber 6, North Little Rock 3
As Vernon Tarver tweeted to me during the nightcap Thursday, the best benefit games are the ones that don’t feel like benefit games. That’s exactly what Har-Ber and North Little Rock provided.
Even in late August, it had the feel of an everything-is-on-the-line type matchup. The teams were physical, fast and strong on defense all night. The offenses were relatively quiet, but Har-Ber coach Chris Wood thought each defensive line was dominant up front.
The fun, though, began on the opening kickoff as Har-Ber went 78 yards down to the NLR 21 thanks to a trick play.
“We don’t get the opportunity to do it that much, so it was good to get it in a live setting,” Wood said of the trickery. “What’s disappointing is we got no points out of the deal. We get a procedure penalty, they stone our run game; that’s not the way you draw up your first drive offensively.”
Har-Ber had trouble getting into any rhythm offensively against NLR’s defense. The Wildcats finished with just 111 yards of total offense, 85 coming on the ground. Quarterbacks Aaron Henington and Payton Copher combined to complete just two passes, but Copher helped out in the run game as well, scampering four times for 32 yards and a pair of crucial first downs late.
“It was just real sloppy, had a lot of false starts,” Wood said. “It just wasn’t clean football from an offensive standpoint. But we’ll look at film, try to get better and prepare ourselves for Southside.”
Har-Ber’s leading returning receiver Trey Smith did not play in the scrimmage due to a hamstring tweak. Wood says the senior should be ready to go by week 1, but it was evident the Wildcats missed his presence on offense.
The Har-Ber defense set up the first score of the scrimmage in the first quarter when sophomore Brock Pounders picked off a NLR pass and returned it inside the red zone. It led to a 41-yard field goal from Jesus Zizumbo to give the Wildcats a 3-0 lead.
NLR RB Alex Day had been bottled up for the most part in the first quarter, but a 20-yard run down to the Har-Ber 9 had the visitors on the brink of taking the lead. Har-Ber’s defense strengthened, though, forcing a 4th-and-goal. That’s when Bryton Cook stuffed Day at the 2, giving possession back to the Wildcats.
It was the first of two 4th down stops on the night for the Wildcats, who held NLR scoreless until the 6:47 mark of the second quarter when Savana Melton tied the game with a 31-yard field goal. That’s when Har-Ber’s ground game began eating away at the clock.
Logan Collins – 13 carries, 49 yards – was the Wildcats’ go-to back once NLR knotted the game. Once backed up to its own 3 after a special teams miscue and procedure penalty, Har-Ber used a defensive pass interference penalty to get out of the shadow of its own endzone. Copher then made two great plays with his feet, gaining first down yardage each time with the latter moving Har-Ber to the NLR 11.
Har-Ber eventually settled for a 24-yard field goal to take a 6-3 lead with 2:16 left. On the ensuing Charging Wildcats drive, Tevin Eckwood nabbed the defense’s second interception of the night to seal the win.